Be it noted that, from the standpoint of the other end of the country (where our editor was when it happened), and most places globally for that matter, the operative word in identifying the location of the deadly white supremacist riot in Charlottesville last weekend was Virginia.
So it is doubly valuable that all jurisdictions in Virginia go on record condemning what happened, and happily, the Falls Church City Council did not hesitate in this regard. It adopted a resolution at the outset of its meeting Monday that, unlike the President, was unambiguous “in support of the values of equality, inclusion, diversity and the rule of law.” It identified independent cities like Falls Church in the commonwealth as “communities of hope, diversity and progress,” and contrasted that to “white nationalism, white supremacism and neo-Nazism” that “are real threats to the social fabric of commonwealth and our country,” being “in conflict with out nation’s principles of liberty and justice for all.” So, it added, “now is the time to reject hatred, stand up for democracy and stand together against those who threaten our brothers and sisters.”
Augmenting this, local activist for the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Liz Hume, wrote to the Council saying, “Alarmingly, we see the progression of ‘fringe groups’ that are infiltrating mainstream institutions and are gaining legitimacy by hiding behind anodyne descriptions like ‘alt-right.’ The remedy for the kind of creeping hatred represented by this movement is a full-throated and open protest by ordinary people who refuse to allow their societies to be divided by extremism.”
She wrote concerning the City’s annual Civil War Day held in May where Confederate flags, increasingly a symbol of the “alt-right’s” hate and racism, are routinely on display and a Robert E. Lee impersonator hob-nobbed with event participants and was pictured on the City’s website. Kudos for Council member Phil Duncan for raising this for future discussion Monday. The News-Press protested the Lee impersonator last spring.
Overall, especially in recent years, the City has a stellar record of renouncing the legacy of racist hatred and bigotry of all kinds. Its support for the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, reclaiming the history of the nation’s first rural chapter of the NAACP here, the naming of the middle school for early African-American activist educator Mary Ellen Henderson and the Falls Church Episcopal Church’s formal ceremony in February seeking repentance and honoring the “enslaved people whose skills and labor helped build the historic Falls Church” are great examples.
Also, the City’s historical commission stopped recommending naming new projects for slave-holding British land grant recipients, and one building was instead named for John Read, a Union soldier located here who was singled out for martyrdom by the Confederacy for educating African-American children.
More can, should and will be done. A community cannot welcome diversity and equality and permit remnants of the opposite to persist.